Cornyn defends Haspel: Democrats already 'smeared' one nominee
© Greg Nash

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynTop Senate Intel Dem: Trump compiling a 'Nixonian enemies list' It’s possible to protect national security without jeopardizing the economy Archivist rejects Democrats' demand for Kavanaugh documents MORE (R-Texas) on Monday urged the Senate to confirm acting CIA Director Gina Haspel to lead the agency after Democrats "unfairly smeared" another of President TrumpDonald John TrumpGillibrand urges opposition to Kavanaugh: Fight for abortion rights 'is now or never' Trump claims tariffs on foreign nations will rescue US steel industry: report Bannon announces pro-Trump movie, operation team ahead of midterms: report MORE's nominees. 

“We've seen one Trump nominee get unfairly smeared by half-truths, innuendo and hearsay. We can't let that happen again. Ms. Haspel didn't ask for this fight," Cornyn said from the Senate floor. 

Cornyn was referring to Navy Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, Trump's failed pick to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs. Jackson withdrew his nomination amid allegations, which he denied, that he created a hostile work environment, mishandled prescription drugs and drank on the job. 

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Though Republican senators also questioned if Jackson was qualified, much of the GOP ire has been directed at Democratic Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterPearl Jam criticized for poster featuring dead Trump, burning White House Montana GOP Senate hopeful touts Trump's support in new ad Vulnerable Dems side with Warren in battle over consumer bureau MORE (Mont.), the ranking member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee who released a list of the allegations. 
 
"I still have a hard time accepting the treatment that Dr. Jackson received before he was even allowed to defend himself," Cornyn added, saying "reckless" attacks could discourage individuals from working for the government. 
 
Cornyn's comment comes as Haspel is scheduled to publicly testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday as part of her nomination. She's also holding a blitz of one-on-one meetings with senators this week ahead of the committee hearing. 
 
She faces a rocky road to confirmation amid scrutiny about her role overseeing a CIA "black site" and the destruction of videotapes that documented the waterboarding of an al Qaeda suspect. 
 
With Republicans holding a slim 51-seat majority, and GOP Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulRand Paul takes victory lap after Brennan's security clearance revoked Trump revokes Brennan's security clearance Republicans have spent .5 million at Trump properties since he took office: report MORE (Ky.) opposed to her nomination, she'll need to win over at least one Democratic senator to be confirmed. 
 
The Washington Post reported that Haspel offered to withdraw her nomination late last week and that the White House wasn't assured until Saturday that she would go through with it. 
 
Cornyn added on Monday that he was glad Haspel stuck with her nomination and didn't fold to "intimidation tactics"